Some of my readers may have noticed that when I argue against certain social positions, I do not invoke God or religion. More specifically, when arguing for the pro-life position, or against abortion; or against same-sex marriage, I do not make appeals to God, the Bible, or religion to do so. In fact, I rarely if ever reference the Bible when arguing against atheism.
I affirm the inspiration and inerrancy of the Bible, properly understood. I think Christianity is true and all other worldviews in-so-far as they diverge from Christianity, are false. I believe Jesus when He said: Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins (John 8:24). I greatly enjoy discussing theology, the Bible, Jesus, and religion in general. So why would it be that someone who is so entrenched in his religious convictions, would write with such negligible reference to such convictions?
First, I think I ought to mention that I think such appeals to God and the Bible are not improper. For if Christianity is in fact true, which I think it is, it is not wrong to argue from the Christian perspective using Christian infrastructure. To ask the Christian to forgo the use of the Bible to make his case is merely the insistence that he adopt a view he doesn’t hold i.e., the Bible is not a valid source for truth. It would be like demanding an attorney not use the law when defending his client. Demanding that anyone deny their position, and adopt their opponent’s view before there can be a discussion is just rigging the game. Skeptics tend to hold the mistaken belief that their views are correct from the outset (See: Win By Default), and thus, the theist must play by the skeptic’s rules. I think this is one of the largest barriers in many discussions. Too many people (on either side of an issue) believe they do not have to argue for their position, and that it is the responsibility of others to argue against it.
Omitting God and the Bible from my arguments disabuses opponents of the out-of-hand dismissal they are so used to employing when arguing with Christians. Since many people on the pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage, and atheist positions hold the presumption Christianity is false, they will use any opportunity afforded to them to not have to argue the issues on their merits. Presenting a pro-life or anti-same-sex marriage argument laced with religion only benefits my opponent. They (wrongly) dismiss the entire argument because of the presence of religion — Eww, you got God on this argument, you need a new one. Dismissals come in many forms: You’re just trying to force your religion! or, You’re trying to impose a theocracy! or the beloved Separation of church and state! No matter what other points of substance you could offer, they all will be avoided. If it’s from the Bible it’s out-of-bounds is removed from the their quiver and they are forced to deal with the merits of the argument made.
Moreover, there are many neutral non-religious people who do not have access to Christian arguments. In other words, many people do not read the Bible or are not religiously inclined, so arguments made from the Bible are irrelevant as far as they are concerned. If someone doesn’t grant the Bible authority, making an argument from the Bible will not further the discussion and will not move someone toward my view. It would be like saying, Where I’m from… They are thinking, Well, I’m not from there so…
For these reasons, I make my case by invoking God or religion as infrequently as possible. Personally, I think it benefits everyone involved, especially onlookers. It forces people to engage the ideas and not my religious convictions. Sure, more often than not, my ideological opponents will remain firmly planted in their views. But the prospect of someone on the fence about a particular issue who may be moved to my side is worth the effort. Far too many people have an impression that if you want to be a Christian, you need to check your mind at the door. Not fulfilling the stereo-typical Bible thumping Christian preaching at you helps the cause.